As has been reported by HoyaReport.com, Josh Smith a UCLA transfer is visiting Georgetown this weekend - while rumors have spread the past few weeks about him possibly becoming a Hoya, this certainly points in that direction with a pre-Christmas visit and Smith looking to enroll next semester. If it happens, it's a roll of the dice by John Thompson III to get involved with Smith, who most say is a very solid young man - he just struggles with his weight and conditioning. The UCLA program of recent years raises enough eyebrows to make you wonder if his career can be salvaged and maybe not only salvaged but eventually flourish again like so many had thought it would coming out of Kentwood High School in Washington. I have no idea if the UCLA program was too enabling or if Smith, and only Smith - is responsible for his struggles. I do know that if JTIII is interested (a calculated man by all accounts) he seems something that can be worked with, both on and off the court.
Smith is a legit 6'10 and I'm guessing his weight has fluctuated for the past 4 years from anywhere from 300lbs to close to 370lbs. What Georgetown or any program can do with Smith's demons remains to be seen but there will need to be drastic improvements in that area to get the most out of him on the court, particularly on the defensive end. On offense, even out of shape Smith offers a unique skill set and physicality that is rare in college basketball. His ability to gain low post position and utilize good feet with soft hands and a soft touch is hard to find. On top of that, everything that can be seen as far as how he reads the game seems above average. His struggles are almost always attached to being out of shape. He is fatigued easily, gets out of position on defense and at some point you can argue whether or not it is someone giving full (or even close to it) effort on the floor.
I believe as most others would, that Smith looked his best (weight and game wise) during his freshman season when he posted 10.9 points per and 6.3 rebounds in just 21.7 minutes on 55.5% shooting. During that season he had individual games of: 17 and 13 at Kansas, 15 and 8 vs BYU, 19 and 8 vs St. John's, 17 and 4 vs Arizona, 12 and 16 at Washington and a combined two game effort of 30 points and 9 rebounds against Michigan State and Florida in the NCAA Tournament. The year was a mixed bag, but the good outweighed the bad. His sophomore year came and Smith appeared to actually have gained weight and it was a struggle all season. The return game vs Kansas saw Smith foul out in 13 minutes and score 1 point. The only stand out performance came in a return trip home to Washington in which he posted 24 points and 9 rebounds. The sophomore numbers dipped to 9.9 points and 4.9 rebounds and his time on the floor decreased as the Wear Twins became better options. Yes, the Wear Twins. Junior year came and went quickly, as Smith still somehow trending upwards in weight - left the team after six games.
So, what now? Well, it's again easy to see why JTIII has interest as Smith possesses skills and strength on the low-block that can be of value.
First, we'll take a look at the good, in particular his ability to carve out space - which I'd argue that Georgetown has not had a player do all that well since Sweetney. Roy, bless his heart was never clearing people out, nor was Greg. They won with height and skill on the block, Smith wins with strength:
Next, some examples of Smith's ability to pass out of double teams - these are the good examples, however he also has had a problem turning the ball over in these spots. I'd attribute that again to just being out of shape and fatigued on the floor. His instincts of sensing a double and passing out of it are usually correct, the execution can vary. How his passing relates to the high post is anyone's guess, but I don't think you would see a black hole with the ball on the block.
Here's a look at some plays he finishes, Smith has soft hands and is good finishing around the rim - when in shape. Beating a dead horse, but that is really the key. If he can elevate, he'll score. If not, you see what happens in the second video - struggles to get a shot up but does stick with it.
The above was the good, on defense it's another story. Smith isn't quick and really struggles against defending the pick and roll:
He's not quick enough to hedge hard, and if has to compensate by giving more room- it's still bad news:
He also can take a bad angle:
And this is what becomes really frustrating, 2nd half of game and Michigan just picks on him. This is where it looks like he stops playing:
This is poor team defense where I can't fault Smith entirely, but he still isn't quick enough to react in time:
Here, Smith has the right idea - he just can't execute well enough and recover:
And I can't tell you what happened here:
You could live with this, also to note he did look quicker laterally his freshman season:
His attention to detail, effort, conditioning and weight all play a part. It's ultimately going to be up to him to become committed to the game again and in turn, to the defensive side of the ball.
I think you can sum things up by this last one, Smith carves out space for an offensive rebound and put back - but head down to the other end and he gives it right back:
In the end, I really do believe there is something to work with here, especially with a year off and I'm sure the staff would make it mandatory for Josh to spend his summer in DC. Talented low-block scorers in college right now are so rare that Georgetown potentially having one would be a major asset. His rebounding is also a big positive, particularly on the offensive end where in the III era Georgetown does not get many second chances in most years. How Smith works into the 'Georgetown' offense would be interesting as very rarely in his time at UCLA did he ever even enter the high post. Who adjusts to who? Other questions such as where does a spring scholarship come from (Is Adams already a medical hardship?) or is Smith on track to graduate in '14 (do we only get 1/2 a year out of him if things go really well, or can we cut this thing short if it goes poorly)? - can all be answered in time. For now, I absolutely think it's a shot worth taking.
(Casual Note: You can find this post and more at Cutting Down Nets)